Cubic metre

Cubic metre
One cubic metre of concrete (representing the world annual production per inhabitant)

The cubic metre (US spelling: cubic meter, symbol: m3) is the SI derived unit of volume. It is the volume of a cube with edges one metre in length. An alternative name, which allowed a different usage with metric prefixes, was the stère. Another alternative name, not widely used any more, is the kilolitre.



1 cubic metre is equivalent to:

  • 1,000 litres (exactly);[1][2]
  • ~35.3 cubic feet (approximately)
    • 1 cu ft = 0.028316846592 m3
  • ~1.31 cubic yards (approximately)
    • 1 cu yd = 0.764554857984 m3
  • ~6.29 oil barrels (approximately)
    • 1 oil bbl = 0.158987294928 m3

A cubic metre of pure water at the temperature of maximum density (3.98 °C) and standard atmospheric pressure (101.325 kPa) has a mass of 1,000 kg, or one tonne. At 0 °C, the freezing point of water, a cubic metre of water has slightly less mass, 999.972 kilograms.

It is sometimes abbreviated to cu m, m3, M3, m^3, m**3, CBM, cbm when superscript characters or markup cannot be used (e.g. in some typewritten documents and postings in Usenet newsgroups).

Abbreviated CBM and cbm in the freight business and MTQ (or numeric code 49) in international trade.

Multiples and submultiples

See 1 E-3 m³ for a comparison with other volumes.


Cubic decametre
the volume of a cube of side length one decametre (10 m)
equal to a megalitre
1 dam3 = 1,000 m3 = 1 ML
Cubic hectometre
the volume of a cube of side length one hectometre (100 m)
equal to a gigalitre
1 hm3 = 1,000,000 m3 = 1 GL
Cubic kilometre
the volume of a cube of side length one kilometre (1,000 m)
equal to a teralitre
1 km3 = 1,000,000,000 m3 = 1 TL


Cubic decimetre
the volume of a cube of side length one decimetre (0.1 m)
equal to a litre
1 dm3 = 0.001 m3 = 1 L
Cubic centimetre[3]
the volume of a cube of side length one centimetre (0.01 m)
equal to a millilitre
1 cm3 = 0.000001 m3 = 10-6 m3 = 1 mL
Cubic millimetre
the volume of a cube of side length one millimetre (0.001 m)
equal to a microlitre
1 mm3 = 0.000000001 m3 = 10-9 m3 = 1 µL


  1. ^ From 1901 to 1964 the litre was defined as the volume of one kilogram of pure water at 4°C and 760 millimetres of mercury pressure. During this time, a litre was about 1.000028 dm3. In 1964 the original definition was reverted to.
  2. ^
  3. ^ The cubic centimetre is the base unit of volume of the CGS system of units. The colloquial abbreviations "cc" and "ccm" are not SI but are common in some contexts such as cooking, engine displacement and medicine.